“Chinatown” is a documentary about the Washington, DC community that is the home to approximately 300 Chinese immigrants. Produced and filmed by Yi Chen, the movie explores DC’s Chinese community and the challenges for the Chinatown neighborhood to stay intact while providing for the needs of older Chinese residents. In observance of Asian American Pacific Islander Month, AARP DC recently hosted two screenings of “Chinatown” for its neighbors, residents of Wah Luck House, a housing facility predominately occupied by older Chinese citizens, for DC. Also a partner for the screenings were AARP’s Asian American Strategic Engagement Employee Resource Groups (SEERG), and representatives from the DC Office of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Affairs
Chen, a Chinese immigrant who moved to American in 2003, began researching various Chinese communities nationwide, “I read an article in the Washington Post about the Wah Luck House bus trips from DC’s Chinatown to a Chinese grocery story in suburban Virginia,” said Chen. “Those shopping trips made me curious to find out more about older residents in DC’s Chinatown.”
The movie “Chinatown” looks at the relationship that older Chinese residents have with the DC Office on Aging, services that currently exist and the services that are needed especially where Chinese translation can be offered. The film also looks at how the District’s shrinking Chinese population in the Chinatown community can coexist amongst the burgeoning commercial development in the surrounding neighborhood.
“I did not make the film as an advocacy piece,” says Chen. “But audience reaction to the documentary has individuals asking what help is needed.”
Approximately 25 percent of Chinese elders attending the screening were AARP members as a result of a previous membership offer from the from AARP’s Asian Multicultural Markets and Engagement team. As a follow up to the screening, AARP DC will continue its offerings and discussions with DC’s Asian population that includes elder Chinese residents. Future meetings will focus on issues raised in the documentary “Chinatown” and the type of collaboration that can take place to support the neighborhood surrounding AARP stays in place.